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SKM and surcharges - Fast Local Trains in Tri-City, Poland


Dougpol1 30 | 2,934
16 Feb 2015  #1
Where to start with this band of unionised jokers?

As part of PKP the SKM is still owned by the state.

skm.pkp.pl/en

As such, some of the employees treat it as their personal plaything, with a lot of "guests" sitting in the front along for the ride. Every train has a "conductor" - whose sole work is to call " All clear", watch the train out of the station and to sell tickets.

Everything that the driver, and ticket machines in the train, could do.

In fact, I suspect that it would not be beyond the realms of modern tech for the trains to be fully automated, but the passenger would not buy into that.

There is a 2 zl 50 surcharge for buying tickets on the train. Today the conductor demanded this fee (more often than not , the train conductor does NOT charge for selling a ticket - which suggests that the charge is in fact at the DISCRETION of the conductor)

Nowhere in the train was it written that the fee was applicable( although it IS established fact) Therefore the charge here is clearly illegal. Anyway - what does the conductor do? His job is redundant, if he is not in fact there to sell tickets.

Further - he is clearly only there because of the 2 zloty 50 gr excess charge and because the unions will not allow the SKM to modernise its' working practices.

When the next train is 30 minutes away and a minus 10 gale is blowing, and the passenger is running to catch the train, why should he be penalised in this manner, when it is perfectly simple to install onboard ticketing?

Now - why should we care?

SKM in the Tri-City has just increased it's prices by more than 5%, and yet they are extremely profitable. The service, though, is well below par, and acts as a monopoly because , since 2002 the traveller can't swop tickets with regional train services.

Summary?

Pure communist era scum.
kpc21 1 | 763
16 Feb 2015  #2
The conductor has many tasks other than selling tickets, for example checking that the train can safely pull out and noticing the driver about it (without this notice the driver cannot start the train), testing the brakes on the end stations or when the direction (so in case of multiple units - the driver's cabin) is changed and so on. Also a lot of paper work.

The rule on all the trains in Poland is that when there is a ticket office on the station (and it is open and sells tickets of the given train operator), conductors charge the extra fee. Otherwise, they don't. The only exception I know is the £ódzka Kolej Aglomeracyjna, where according to their regulations the extra fee should be charged like in case of all other train companies, but in reality it isn't. I met a situation that the conductor was complaining to people that they hadn't bought the tickets on the station (some of people wanted to buy them in a ticket machine on the board, but it was broken down, so they also went to the conductor for tickets and finally there was quite a lot of them) and then he didn't have time to fill in all the papers. And even then the conductor didn't charge the extra fee. Maybe it's because they are a new operator and they are trying to gain a good company image. Maybe also because not each ticket office sells their tickets (although there are usually two such open on that station).

This rule is in the regulations and the price list of each train operator in Poland, even, as I've written, £KA, although they don't charge it in reality. It's height is usually a few PLN (depending on the train operator, for example in PKP IC it is higher than in Przewozy Regionalne, because PKP IC operates mainly long-distance trains; you've written that in SKM Trójmiasto it's 2,5 PLN, so it's quite low there - which is also sensible, because their trains are usually used for inner-city journeys), with the exception of the Pendolino trains of PKP IC (the category Express InterCity Premium - EICP), and only them, where it is 200 PLN.

When the next train is 30 minutes away and a minus 10 gale is blowing, and the passenger is running to catch the train, why should he be penalised in this manner, when it is perfectly simple to install onboard ticketing?

The idea is that you should come earlier and buy ticket on the station, otherwise you pay extra. There is some point in it - you are saving time but you pay more. The problem is that this extra fee is not connected with the price of the ticket (but only with the train operator), and regardless of if you travel by long-distance InterRegio, or within a city by a Regio train (both of the company Przewozy Regionalne), you pay the same extra fee.
OP Dougpol1 30 | 2,934
17 Feb 2015  #3
Sorry chaps - very nice of you to reply - but this is nonsense.

Why are there not ticket machines on trains? Why do you have to validate your ticket before you get a train?

Becuase this is for the convenience of the operator - not the passenger.

Why don't trains in the UK operate with such a guard? Because price cutting is necessary, is why. I accept that the guard has paper work - but when in transit he does nothing - selling tickets is his JOB, otherwise what is he doing.

why should I pay extra to a guard who is paid for doing his job - which is to sell tickets? I am sorry - but I don't get it.

And this talk of - get a ticket before you travel - well - two huge cities of Gdansk and Gdynia, and at 9 PM they run every 30 minutes - which in the wind and rain is pretty hopeless. The SKM should be a social service, as in Lyon for example, not a huge profit making business. IMO.

So - because the SKM can't run their trains efficiently and more often I should have to pay extra? It's already expensive enough.

And - if I am at the back of the train, without a ticket - what is my motivation to make my way to the front of the train (no easy task on these communist style trains) and to buy a ticket - only to be hit by a surchage?

This system actively encourages fare-dodging, and the contacted ticket inspectors have little real authority when tested.

No. It's plain wrong in my view.
kpc21 1 | 763
17 Feb 2015  #4
Because price cutting is necessary, is why.

Well said.

In the UK the train operators have competition among them. In Poland the government doesn't want to allow independent operators to the national tracks. The only exception is when local governments, sometimes being more sensible then the national one, choose a private operator in a tender to operate the local trains.

With the national train operators it is more or less like with the national mining companies - for sure you heard about the recent strike in one of them.

The government - as an owner of different companies, like railway operators, mines and so on, does little to make them competitive. In case of railway it's easy to block any competition on the tracks. Of course, it is quite short-sighted, because many people resign from trains at all and they use private cars (which results in increased air pollution and road traffic) or bus connections (especially since PolskiBus appeared). But it's enough for the period of office of the given government. They don't care of what will be later - it doesn't bother them. What is important is to find jobs for their family, relatives, acquaintances in form of well-paid managerial positions (even if they know nothing about management - and it's the next reason why it looks as it looks).

The next thing is to keep the existing employment in the national companies. Even if they give no profit and the government must even pump extra money into them (yes, from people's taxes). In national companies it's quite common - usually it's a reminder from the communist times, where the basic rule was that the country must give job to everyone. To make these companies bring profit, the only way are massive layoffs. But here, there are two problems. Firstly, it would set people against the government. Secondly, it would result in huge social problems. If somebody was educated as a miner from the very beginning, he won't find another job. After being made redundant, he will stay unemployed probably for the rest of his life. So the government is often saying about "restructurisation" of the national companies instead. Which in practice means that they fire a few people on managerial positions, employ new ones (this means, of course, fellow politicians or family members) and that's all.

This is the problem with all the national, and generally speaking, public companies (it includes also those owned by local governments, for example by a city). Instead of making the company competitive, the authorities don't allow any competition to appear. Or, at least, they think they don't allow, but it's not fully possible. Why? It's simplier. What is most important for them - they are saving the workplaces. Which are usually not needed, but it turns out that people can bear too high taxes, but at the same time they cannot bear massive layoffs in public companies.

Of course in case of the fields in which it's totally impossible to exclude competition, like in case of mining, the company finally goes bankrupt. Because it turns out that it's cheaper to import coal from Russia or Czech Republic than to use one produced in Poland. Although it was always said that the coal is the greatest wealth of our country.

Conclusion - I don't know how it looks like in the other countries, but the national or public ownership of companies belonging to any field of economy isn't a good idea in Poland. In theory it should be more profitable than when the company is private - there is no "capitalist" who takes some of the money for himself. But it doesn't work so in reality.

About the people that resigned from trains at all - it is depicted quite well by the recent TV commercial of PKP Intercity: "Kto z Państwa jechał ostatnio pociągiem PKP?" - "Who of you has recently ridden a PKP train?".

youtube.com/watch?v=TKrcKYBxKdw

I will try to translate it.

There is a meeting of parents and the teacher (supervisor of a class) at school.

Teacher: At the end, the issue of the school trip.
Parent 1: I don't know if it's a good idea for our children to go by train. Have any of you recently ridden a train?

Parent 2: Excuse me, but have any of you recently ridden a PKP train?
Parent 3: But each train is PKP!
Parent 2: And each man with a pitchfork is Poseidon!
Parent 3: Who?

And then the lector: We are one of the biggest Polish transport operators, but not the only one. Therefore, not all the trains are PKP. See how we are changing and choose a journey with our trains!

Even producing such a commercial is a great progress in a company such as PKP Intercity. They are, at least, trying to recover the lost customers. It is improving - but very slowly, and maybe not in case of the PKP SKM company, which really has no competition (unlike the PKP Intercity, operating on long-distance routes, where there are also for example PolskiBus coaches).
bullfrog 6 | 603
17 Feb 2015  #5
never seen machines selling tickets onboard train, whether in the UK or elsewhere!
JollyRomek 7 | 481
17 Feb 2015  #6
why should I pay extra to a guard who is paid for doing his job - which is to sell tickets? I am sorry - but I don't get it.

It seems that you really don't get it. The conductor's job is not to sell tickets but to check them. It is not the rail company's fault if you can not be bothered to go to the station 5 minutes earlier to buy your ticket upfront. Even in the UK passengers are required to be in possession of a valid ticket when boarding the train. Surely, it is not news to you now is it?

By the way, in Switzerland the SBB charges 10 francs for buying a ticket of the conductor........
Harry
17 Feb 2015  #7
When I lived in the Tri-City, I used to buy train tickets ten at a time and keep a few in my wallet.
JollyRomek 7 | 481
17 Feb 2015  #8
Like a good Pole, ripping one of the other of your wee "booklet" until you have reached the last one :) . Seen this many times in Polish trams when people take a pile of tickets out of their wallet, rip one off and put into the machine that reads the time when they got on...... i dont know the name of that machine
kpc21 1 | 763
17 Feb 2015  #9
never seen machines selling tickets onboard train, whether in the UK or elsewhere!

So try a new local train operator in the neighborhood of £ódź - £ódzka Kolej Aglomeracyjna (£KA). They have ticket machines onboard:

Train Poland

And they have conductors selling tickets too. As I've already said - without the extra fee, even if there is a ticket office at the station.

Today there was even a funny situation. The computer system used by conductors for selling tickets was crashed. Normally in such a case conductor would have to write the ticket manually on a special form. It was much faster to buy a ticket in the machine, which was, luckily, working, at least for coins (there are usually problems with bank notes in their machines). So the conductor directed the passengers to the machine. If somebody was for example an elder person and claimed not to be able to use it, the conductor just bought the tickets for them in the machine instead of writing in on paper, which would take much time. Paper forms were used only if somebody didn't have any change (they didn't want to risk using bank notes in the machine, although in theory it should accept them too - or maybe they had already tried for a few times and knew it didn't accept them :) ) or wanted to buy a ticket that isn't available in the machine (for example with changing trains, or with a discount for railway employees).

Normally, thee conductors in £KA have, of course, these special devices for selling tickets, with a touchscreen and printer, like in all other Polish train operators. But the system was broken down and they weren't working.
Harry
17 Feb 2015  #10
never seen machines selling tickets onboard train, whether in the UK or elsewhere!

There are machines on the trains from Warsaw airport.

Like a good Pole, ripping one of the other of your wee "booklet" until you have reached the last one :)

No, I never bought booklets, just tickets, ten at a time or whatever I had change for. I do the same now in Warsaw with tram tickets.
OP Dougpol1 30 | 2,934
18 Feb 2015  #11
It seems that you really don't get it. The conductor's job is not to sell tickets but to check them. It is not the rail company's fault if you can not be bothered to go to the station 5 minutes earlier to buy your ticket upfront.

Please don't lecture me on what I "can or can't be bothered to do." You might be content in living in a backward state where things are done for the convenience of the company, and not it's passengers, but change only comes about through passenger surveys and such. And I'm offering an opinion on the crappiness of the SKM

Their directors are basking in all the backslapping they get doled out for rolling out long overdue new rolling stock, but they are allowed to get away with profiteering and this surcharge is actually illegal when it is not stated on the train in writing. I know that some people might have a problem with accepting that simple fact - but the ZOMO were consigned to their hotelik housing blocks years ago - and it is perfectly within my rights to challenge financial impropriety when it is my money.

And I'm 57, so wont be forced to run around madly to be at the station "5 minutes before the train" - it's a goddamn commuter service - not an IC.

Thanks Harry for the book idea - but my journeys are random. And as for on board machines As Kpc points out, it can be done.

The situation in Switzerland? That Jew-hating criminals' paradise? OT.
kpc21 1 | 763
18 Feb 2015  #12
Their directors are basking in all the backslapping they get doled out for rolling out long overdue new rolling stock, but they are allowed to get away with profiteering and this surcharge is actually illegal when it is not stated on the train in writing.

You are right about the directors, but this extra fee is perfectly legal.
Harry
18 Feb 2015  #13
I meant it's simple to buy two (or more) so you're good later.
OP Dougpol1 30 | 2,934
18 Feb 2015  #14
this extra fee is perfectly legal

I would very much doubt that kpc - if it is not written on a sign in the train - which it usually is. For surcharges or extra fees payable a notice has to be on display to that effect, the layman would suggest.
kpc21 1 | 763
18 Feb 2015  #15
Could you prove it with some examples of national regulations? As for me, it's enough that it is in the regulations of the operator that such an extra fee is charged. It is even a position in the price list:

skm.pkp.pl/taryfy-i-przepisy/przepisy-i-druki/?eID=tx_rtgfiles_download&tx_rtgfiles_pi1%5Buid%5D=139 - page 74, point 3.

If you take a city bus, or tram, you also have to have a ticket already with you. Is it OK according to you, but similar situation on a train is no more OK?
bullfrog 6 | 603
19 Feb 2015  #16
Why do you have to validate your ticket before you get a train?

That is the rule in many countries; apart from Swizerland, which you do not seem to like, it is also the case in France.

For surcharges or extra fees payable a notice has to be on display to that effect, the layman would suggest.

Unfortunately, this is wrong and kpc21 is right. In case you are not aware, Poland is not (yet?) part of the UK and has its own legislation. UK rules do not apply in Poland
OP Dougpol1 30 | 2,934
19 Feb 2015  #17
If you take a city bus, or tram, you also have to have a ticket already with you. Is it OK according to you, but similar situation on a train is no more OK?

Buses and trams aren't every 30 minutes - unlike the SKM after 8.30 at night - between two of Polands' largest cities, which are only 25 km apart. Hence the constant running for the train and not having the time to go (often) 100 metres to the other end of the station where the ticket office is.

Put a bloody ticket machine in the blooming train!

So as before, for being honest and going to the conductor and purchasing a ticket I get rewarded by a surchage. If this was MANDATORY, and the conductor's ticketing system automatically included the surcharge - then so be it.

This is not the case - most normal minded conductors do not apply the charge. Jobsworths do, and just on occasion they get the sharp edge of my tongue for actually doing precious little but acting up.
cms 9 | 1,272
19 Feb 2015  #18
Doug you seem to have an unreasonable problem with authority.

When I first came to Poland it was 5 zloty extra to buy a ticket on the train (intercity) and I often did it because the line was longer than 15 minutes in the station ticket counter. It was not posted anywhere in the train - somebody told me and I remembered it and thought it was fair. I would normally tell the conductor as I was running to the train that I would buy on the train.

I cant understand why you are making such a fuss about 2.50 zloty

Yes of course its inefficient, its a public business in Eastern Europe - what's the alternative ? cast all those people onto the street with no other jobs or wait patiently for a few years until they retire or die from a life of smoking Mocne ?
OP Dougpol1 30 | 2,934
20 Feb 2015  #19
When I first came to Poland it was 5 zloty extra to buy a ticket on the train (intercity) and I often did it because the line was longer than 15 minutes in the station ticket counter.

Yes of course cms - that story of yours pertains to Intercity long distance.

But the SKM is different. If I take two 4 zl journeys late at night between Gdynia Redlowo and Sopot, and pay a surchage of 2.50 on each journey - just giving an example - then that's 13 zl instead of 8 zl....... an extra cost calculated in my pea-brain head of 62.5%!

There are other stations such as Wreszcz where you have to leg it for the train, because the platform is loooong.... and if you dally you have to wait for 30 minutes for the next evening SKM.

No problem with "authority" at all - where the authority has earned respect because they care about the paying customer.

There's the other one - about PR (Przezowe Regionale ) where a 5.50 zl train ticket for me from Gdynia to Rumis is surchaged by 7 zl because that is the excess charge for my dog.

In other words, the dog travels first class (but is denied a seat)

You really couldn't make it up and Polish railways obviously employ clowns.
kpc21 1 | 763
20 Feb 2015  #20
You are right that it's sick (although legal).

But what can we do, as the citizens? Change the authorities? Every 4 years there are elections for the parliament, every 4 years there are elections of the local authorities. In terms of the local authorities, it's different in different areas, but if we take into consideration the country government in Warsaw - there are two main political forces: PiS, which started making clowns from themselves after that plane crash in Smolensk (but still having plenty of commited supporters), and PO, governing now. What's PO like - you can see (they, for example, increased VAT as well as the age of retiring), but they are still better than PiS. PiS did totally nothing in the country, PO invests, at least, in the infrastructure (but mainly in roads, forgetting about the railway). Exploits the money that are coming from the EU. And, by the way, they do quite a good propaganda. If I am not wrong, the PO government is the first one from the political system transformation that was elected once again after 4 years of governing. And I'm afraid that in the elections this year PO will win again, because people will not want PiS to win.

In terms of the local authorities, sometimes they try to do more for people. For example in £ódź the authorities of the £ódź Province started a new railway operator trying to create something like SKM in the Tricity (£KA - I've written about them before). And, as you can see, although there is still much to improve, it's much better than in the Tricity with the national PKP-SKM. They have, at least, ticket machines onboard, and, in spite of that, the conductors don't charge for tickets even at the stations with ticket selling points. So you should ask the authorities either of Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot, or of the Pomerania Province why it looks like that there.
Harry
20 Feb 2015  #21
What can we do? We can buy an extra ticket whenever we buy a ticket and keep the spare in our wallet. Not exactly rocket science, is it?
kpc21 1 | 763
20 Feb 2015  #22
I don't know how does it work in SKM. In "normal" trains it's impossible because while buying the ticket you have to say when it is supposed to be valid. Maybe in SKM it's different.

If you use SKM regularly, you can always buy a monthly pass.

BTW, the surcharge for a dog in SKM is only 1 PLN:
skm.pkp.pl/taryfy-i-przepisy/tabele-oplat
scottie1113 7 | 898
20 Feb 2015  #23
Why do you have to validate your ticket before you get a train?

Because you can buy a ticket online with a smart phone, and many users will do that up to the point of pressing the buy button until they see a conductor on the train. Otherwise they ride for free. SKM is wise to this now and they can check the time of purchase. A friend of mine did this. Having purchased but not validated his ticket, he boarded, took a seat and then validated the ticket. A conductor saw him do it. Result-a 100 zl fine.

Do what Harry suggested. Buy a few tickets at a time. If you can't be bothered to validate one before boarding (I really can't believe that you're so resistant to this.) , walk to the front of the train and have it validated there.

You're making a mountain out of a molehill. Grow up, son.
Harry
20 Feb 2015  #24
On the SKM you punch your ticket on the platform before getting on the train (or you can ask the conductor to do it on the train).
OP Dougpol1 30 | 2,934
21 Feb 2015  #25
Do what Harry suggested. Buy a few tickets at a time

Will do.

walk to the front of the train and have it validated there

Often the machines are located in the most difficult of places - for example, way down the platform at the other end............and yes, often the conductor insists on applying the surcharge to validate the ticket. Is that legal?

You're making a mountain out of a molehill. Grow up, son.

Nah :) I'm sure you too have your bugbears, and you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I think the SKM provides a poor service. Obviously you are satisfied. We'll beg to differ.

In terms of the local authorities, sometimes they try to do more for people. For example in £ódź the authorities of the £ódź Province started a new railway operator trying to create something like SKM in the Tricity (£KA - I've written about them before). And, as you can see, although there is still much to improve, it's much better than in the Tricity with the national PKP-SKM. They have, at least, ticket machines onboard, and, in spite of that, the conductors don't charge for tickets even at the stations with ticket selling points. So you should ask the authorities either of Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot, or of the Pomerania Province why it looks like that there.

Thank you kpc - I will write to the SKM here pointing out my concerns and will post the correspondence if and when they reply :)

Please avoid excessive quoting


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